I was so excited the first time I found out I was pregnant. I literally jumped up and down. Of course, I had heard and read about morning sickness and hoped I would not have it. But, even so, I mean, how bad could it be, right? I still thought pregnancy was this vibrant time of life, filled with a glowing complexion and that walking-on-air feeling of joy. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful, amazing time in a woman’s life, right?
It wasn’t this way for me, and it is not this way for the three quarters of pregnant women who suffer from the misnamed morning sickness. Morning sickness varies from mild to severe and for those with hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness, it can require hospitalization and be life threatening. I did not, fortunately, suffer from the latter but did indeed suffer through morning sickness through all three of my pregnancies.
Morning sickness is no walk in the park. The experiences vary from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy as well sometimes. I can only share my personal experience and how it felt for me and can’t speak for other women. With each pregnancy the degree and longevity of the morning sickness worsened. I think it is misunderstood in a lot of cases and wanted to shed some light on it for those who haven’t encountered it yourself and have a loved one suffering through it. I switch tenses a lot as sometimes I’m referring to a specific past pregnancy and sometimes to my general experience so sorry if that is confusing!
For me, each time it starts early, around 5 weeks. Even now, just thinking about it makes me feel nauseous. I haven’t even written about it before because I don’t like to relieve those days. Weeks 5 and 6 I’m still able to maintain a mostly normal life. I start getting aversions to certain things like cheese (normally my favorite food in the world), chicken, beef, salad, etc. Towards the end of week 6 and into week 7 it gets pretty bad. My last pregnancy, the worst one, I was pretty much resigned to spending most of my days laying down in bed or on the couch. My energy was drained and walking around took a lot of effort. I felt dizzy and light headed most of the time I was up. The aversions intensify as time goes on. I can’t drink much at all although I know I need to. Water is right out as it makes the nausea a lot worse, even just a tiny sip.
My sense of smell is heightened to the point I can’t be in the kitchen for more than a minute and cannot open the refrigerator or the pantry without throwing up. This means my daughter mostly had to get her own food or Josh had to come home to get her lunch for her. Obviously if I absolutely had to, I would get her something and then run to the bathroom to throw up. She ate lot of yogurt and cheese sticks during that time as it was a food she could get out for herself and eat. She was 2 during the time I had morning sickness.
Going out to a restaurant and the grocery store is pretty much impossible because of all of the smells. Going out at all was pretty much impossible most days in my last pregnancy. I generally just did not have the energy or the will. Every once in awhile I would have a “good” day and would get out for a little bit but I absolutely avoided doing this unless I had someone with me to help with Marcella. I just couldn’t keep up with an active 2 year old when just getting up and walking took almost everything out of me. I also couldn’t drive because my hands would literally shake most of the time.
I can’t stand to have anything touching my stomach so the looser my clothes are, the better. Those bands that pulled up over your stomach? Yeah, I can’t deal with those at all. This made nursing Marcella a bit challenging as I would try my best to make sure she wasn’t touching or laying on my stomach. I ended up having to wean her as it became painful and just being so nauseous all the time made it really hard for me. I also can’t take showers as standing up for that long was too much for me so I was resigned to baths and washing my hair with a cup of water to rinse for months.
And, yes, I alluded to morning sickness being a misnomer. For me, and it seems most women I talk to, it is all day sickness. From the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment my pillow hits the bed at night, I am nauseous. This went on in my last pregnancy for about 5 months which means I spent the majority of my pregnancy in this state. I would throw up at minimum at least once a day for those 5 months and up to 3 or 4 times a day. And I was lucky. I have friends who easily would have loved to only throw up that little as they did in excess of 6-8 times a day. I went through a spell this last pregnancy where every single day while eating lunch I would get halfway through and throw up without warning. Sometimes I could make it to the bathroom, a lot of times I could not.
So, if you have a loved one suffering through morning sickness, be understanding when she can’t meet you for dinner, or any meal, or be around you at all when food is anywhere around. Be sensitive to the fact that talking about food could send her running for the bathroom. Be aware that your perfume or lotion or shampoo could be really hard for her to breathe in and it isn’t only food smells that trigger the nausea. My refrigerator could literally be empty and cleaned and I still wouldn’t have been able to stand the smell of it. It is a smell that when I’m not pregnant is barely even noticeable at all but while pregnant is magnified greatly. If you come over to see her and her house is filthy, it’s probably because she cannot clean it, not because she’s turned in to a slob. She might just have absolutely no energy left.
One last note I wanted to make. Most likely, she’s already heard all of the “cures”. I know you mean well, and I certainly didn’t mind people telling me but a pack of saltines by the bedside (or eating small meals every hour, or wearing sea-bands or insert whatever other advice you have heard here) probably just isn’t going to help. It’s probably past that point if she’s 15 weeks and still sick or she is throwing up multiple times a day everyday. I know a lot of people get to 12 weeks and miraculously their morning sickness disappears…and that is awesome for those women. But not all of us are that lucky sadly. What will help is compassion, help with her kids or cleaning her bathtub.
Did you suffer through morning sickness? What was your experience?
Shared at The Tuesday Baby Link-up